Flushing Out a Capybara

A capybara, far from home in a Paso Robles sewage plant

The best sewage story ever? What could possibly beat a wild capybara emerging from the murky waters of a California sewage pond? Rodents of unusual size have a wide following. (Exhibit A: the classic Rob Reiner film “The Princess Bride.”)  And capybaras are prized as a Peruvian delicacy (Exhibit A: My food critic brother Jonathan Gold). But I’m pretty sure that the rodent in question didn’t escape from anyone’s vermin ranch.

Also, what the heck was the capybara doing in the wastewater pond to begin with?  I know the animals love water, but Amazonia is a long way from Paso Robles. And the Amazon’s pristine waterways seem a lot more appealing than poorly treated Central Coast sewage.

The settling pond photos look like something from before the dawn of sewage treatment technology.  And they are!  The plant was built in the 1950s and has not been modified since then to provide nitrogen removal.  The 3 million-gallon-a-day plant definitely needs a major overhaul and Paso Robles is considering joining the 21st century on wastewater treatment (an estimated $50M for adding filtration and denitrification).

Meanwhile, be on the lookout for rodents of unusual size in Paso Robles.

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One Response

  1. Capybaras may well be eaten in the Amazonian fringes of Peru, although you don’t hear much about it. The famous rodent is cuy, guinea pig more or less, fed on table scraps. There aren’t a lot of meat animals that thrive at 14,000 feet, and you’ll find cuy, rubbed with garlic and black oregano, everywhere on the altiplano from Ecuador to Bolivia. Delicious but not beautful.

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